Former co-owner of a ‘queer Indigenous artists’ collective apologizes for pretending to be a Native American

Katie Le Claire in 2012, discovered by AdvancedSmite; nibiiwakamigkwe Kay LeClaire in 2021, provided by Nipinet Landsem via Madison365

The so-called “non-binary” former co-owner of a queer Indigenous artists’ collective in Wisconsin may be getting the Rachel Dolezal and Elizabeth Warren treatment, following accusations of being a white person trying to pass as a minority.

Kay LeClaire, who reportedly faked her Native American heritage, is under fire for what some believe to be deliberate dishonesty in order to achieve personal ends.

LeClaire claims she is of Metis, Oneida, Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee, Cuban and Jewish heritage, Madison 365 reports.

However, a critic of LeClaire used open source Genealogy to trace LeClaire’s lineage to German, Swedish and French Canadian ancestors.

The findings were posted to a forum and resulted in online backlash.

I’m a statement, LeClaire -who was given grants under the premise that she was Native American- has vowed to give back to the Native American community and continue her work as a “white” person.

“I am sorry,” she reportedly wrote. “A lot of information has come to my attention since late December. I am still processing it all and do not yet know how to respond adequately. What I can do now is offer change. Moving forward, my efforts will be towards reducing harm by following the directions provided by Native community members and community-specified proxies. Currently, this means that I am not using the Ojibwe name given to me and am removing myself from all community spaces, positions, projects, and grants and will not seek new ones.”

LeClaire has since parted from the art collective.

“The collective at giige would like to extend our gratitude and utmost sympathy to the Indigenous community within and surrounding Teejop in the wake of the recent revelation of the many harms committed by former co-founder Kay Le Claire,” the collective’s Instagram post read. “Evidence has come to light indicating that Kay Le Claire has made false claims regarding [her] heritage, [her] art, and [her] position in the community.”

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